Connecticut doctors call on legislators to expand health care for undocumented immigrants
Health care professionals across Connecticut are concerned about the state’s health policies for undocumented children.
On Wednesday, they delivered a letter with more than 550 signatures to Governor Ned Lamont, Senate President Martin Looney, House Speaker Matthew Ritter, Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff and House Majority Leader Rep. Jason Rojas.
It calls on the state to cover undocumented immigrants who financially qualify for the HUSKY Healthcare program until age 26.
The state expanded health care coverage to undocumented kids younger than 12 in January, but doctors say that it is not enough.
New Haven pediatrician Dr. Marietta Vazquez wants to be able to treat patients older than 12 — regardless of their immigration status.
“It's very, very difficult to tell a parent, well, the right thing to do for this disease is to give this medication and to undergo this treatment, but unfortunately, simply because of where your child was born, we can't do that,” Vazquez said.
A bill in the legislature would raise the age to 19. That would cover an additional 2,300 teenagers, and is projected to lower what the state spends on Emergency Medicaid. It would also reduce uncompensated care costs for hospitals.
The bill would cost around $8 million.
New Haven pediatrician Dr. Julia Rosenberg said she believes young adults deserve to have health care, too.
“It's time to ensure that all children have coverage,” Rosenberg said. “I do not want to have to tell another young adult or family that their age or their child's age disqualifies them from receiving essential health care.”
The Husky4Immigrants coalition, which includes immigrants rights groups, advocates, healthcare providers and unions, supports House Bill 6616, but they will still advocate to raise the age to 26.
According to Husky4Immigrants, 5.9% of Connecticut residents were uninsured in 2019, and 58% of them were undocumented immigrants.